Blues perfect season

Jack Brown (Ljubica Vrankovic) 362605_12

Tara Murray

Keilor capped off one of the more dominant Essendon District Football League premier division seasons, with a well deserved premiership on Saturday afternoon.

Undefeated throughout the regular season, the Blues had an average winning margin of more than 50 points.

They smashed Pascoe Vale in the semi final, with Strathmore doing the same thing to the Panthers in the preliminary final.

Come Saturday, the Mores were full of confidence having had a strong second half of the season in their quest for back-to-back titles.

The Blues hit the scoreboard early as they made the most of their forward entries.

The margin was 11 points at quarter time and three goals at half time in the favour of the Blues.

The second half would be all the Blues.

They led by five goals at three quarter time, before their running ability came to the fore in the last.

The margin blew out to 61 points, before the Mores kicked a couple late. The final score was 20.7 (127)-11.9 (75) showing the difference between the Blues and the other teams this year.

Blues coach Mick McGuane said what they had achieved this year was pretty significant.

“They’re a great bunch of boys,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people in the footy industry realise how difficult it is to go through undefeated.

“I thought our back half of the year was really strong and solid. Today [Saturday] we had to step up against a team that was in fantastic form and match hardened. We had one game in about 28 days, I think.

“It was a testament to the players’ discipline, the way we worked and what we worked on in that period, without playing games.”

McGuane said both sides had periods of control in the grand final and he felt it was the third quarter that would prove to be the difference in the end.

“I thought we cracked them and I thought it would take a very good team to beat this team, playing the hard contested brand we play.

“We are a very good running side. When you have high octane type performances like we have, we want to play chaos, play quick, if the ball is alive a lot you have to get from contest to contest which we are good at.

“We outnumbered spread and we used the ball and we sort of did that.

“I thought we had a number of winners right across the board which is why we ran out quite comprehensive winners at game’s end. “

Matthew Clark kicked five goals for the winners, while Kane Barbuto kicked four and Christos Kosmas and Nathan Colenso kicked three each.

Barbuto won his second Reg Rose Medal for the best player in the grand final, after winning it in 2019.

McGuane said it could have gone to a number of players.

“I thought [Nick] O’Kearney was stiff,” he said. “I loved the way that Kane went about it, we isolated him with the right match up early.

“O’Kearney finished with close to 40, Clark kicked five. Colenso replaced [Damien] Cavka and kicked three and did what he did in front of the ball.

“Kosmas, is the brother in law of Cavka, and he had a lot to play for.”

The result is a long way from the start of pre-season when the Blues had a number of more experienced players either retire or go to lower levels. McGuane said it would have been easy to sit back and look at who they lost, instead of making change.

“You get to work with the group at your disposal,” he said. “This is the way you should train, quick entry, embracing imperfections and the group we had in front of the ball.

“We kept kicking winnings scores. We averaged 133 throughout the year for that to stand true in a final, it does get tough and it does get hard to hit the scoreboard, goes to show what we put in 10 months ago.”

For nine of the group, it’s the second time they have been part of the premiership that capped off a perfect season.

For Barbuto, it was premiership number three for the Blues. For McGuane, number four.

“You don’t go down that path of how many you can get,” McGuane said. “A person reminded me today, post game, that you’ve been to Tassie and coached premiers and championship [undefeated] team and you’ve done it twice in the space of four years [at Keilor].

“It’s something we couldn’t do in 137 year history, doing a lot right and we believe in what we know and what we do, to give these young boys a taste of what victory is like at the pointy end of the season, pretty proud the work we’ve put in.”